Both of the new colours of the Nintendo DSi XL – wine red and dark brown – indicate that Nintendo is no longer slavishly following the lead of the Apple iPod with a its glossy white sheen, as they were widely accused of with the first DS Lite console.
Both are also fairly conservative, a deliberate design choice to attempt to appeal to older users that are unlikely to go for bilious green or hot pink. Perhaps the coolest aspect of the new DSi XL is the fact that the console has a matt finish on the underside which means that you can pop it on a table or pretty much any other flat surface for those extended Zelda sessions.
The DSi XL also comes pre-loaded with A Little Bit of... Dr Kawashima's Brain Training: Arts Editionand Dictionary 6 in 1 with Camera Function, as well as the Nintendo DSi Browser, which means that you can get online via the console's Opera browser wherever you have a free Wi-Fi connection. And while the web browsing experience on the DSi XL is hardly going to give the iPhone a run for its money, it is the best internet experience yet on a handheld games console. A country mile better than attempting to surf the web with Sony's PSP. Which certainly counts for something.
One of the other nice touches out of the box is the DSi XL's larger pen-like stylus - perfect for the larger-fingered gent and a clear indication that Nintendo is properly starting to design its consoles for use by (western) adults and seniors. The most obvious benefit here is, of course, that larger 4.2-inch dual screen which, compared with the 3.25-inch screen of our old DSi, really makes gaming on the DSi XL a lot more fun. We have completed the new Zelda on this latest Nintendo handheld and going back to playing the same game on a smaller screen on a DS Lite or DSi is just not an option.
Playing other recent classics such as New Super Mario Bros on the DSi XL only served to convince us that this device is something considerably more than an 'annual refresh' of a popular handheld rolled out by Nintendo in order to sell a few more units.
It actually made the game better and more fun to play. As well as looking loads better it became easier to judge jumps and distance on the screen – a vital component to any Mario title. However, there is no way we would trade back to the smaller screen after playing on this. Though Nintendo fans will no doubt be hoping to see 2011's iteration of the DS feature a better resolution screen.
In addition to better visuals, the DSi XL has slightly better sound quality than its older brother, something that is sure to delight many public bus passengers in the coming years, as the kids whip out the new console on the back seat.